The Transnational Chinese Business Network in the Early Twentieth Century and Its Economic and Cultural Impact: A Case Study of the Zhongshan Business Community

By Ricardo K. S. Mak and Michael Wing-Hin Kam.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As a prominent core for studies on the interaction between nations and overseas non-state actors, as well as relations between nations and the wider world, transnational history has so far reinvented old conventions. For one, “space” has been re-conceptualized as transcending national borders. Intercepting the idea with Chinese history, the development of the Zhongshan business community from the late 19th century onwards shall shed light on the network branches that originated in a small Chinese county and gradually spread to Sydney, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Remarkably within a few decades, Ma Yingbiao, the Kwok brothers, etc. accrued a transnational network that comprised of department stores, banks, hotels, plantations and various other firms; most notably, the Wing On Department Store emerged as a multi-million dollar enterprise, witnessing the creation of branches in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the early 20th century. Furthermore, it is worth noting the role of the Zhongshan business community in facilitating the cultural interflow between China and Australia as Australian concepts in marketing, operation and human resource (Anthony Hordern & Sons Ltd. in particular) were subsequently incorporated and employed to propel commercial success and transnational glory.

Keywords: Transnational History, Chinese Business Network, Zhongshan Business Community

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.51-71. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.134MB).

Ricardo K. S. Mak

Professor, Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong (S.A.R.), Hong Kong

Ricardo K. S. Mak is a Professor of history at Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his PhD in history and political science from the University of Regensburg. Specializing in modern historical methods and theories, Sino-German relations and modern Chinese intellectual history. He has published two books, several edited volumes, and over forty articles and reviews on related topics.

Dr Michael Wing-Hin Kam

Lecturer, Department of History, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong (S.A.R), Hong Kong

Michael Wing-Hin Kam is a lecturer in history and civilization at the College of International Education, Hong Kong Baptist University. He earned his PhD in history from the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the history of pirates in Ming China, the business, philanthropy and higher education of modern China and Hong Kong and he has published in the past few years a couple of articles on these topics.